Giorgio usually does a good job of staying away from his family. He loves them, but they can be a bit much even for him, and he likes his independence. There’s no way he can get out of a family Christmas, though, no matter how much he’d like to.
Holden really shouldn’t have told his parents he was gay just before the break. They didn't take it well, and he’d have spent Christmas on his own in his dorm room if his best friend, Leo, hadn’t invited him to go home with him.
The last thing Giorgio expects from Christmas with his family is meeting a guy he’s attracted to. Giorgio finds himself drawn to Holden. Can he really risk hooking up with a man ten years younger than him? A man who is Giorgio’s youngest brother’s best friend? What will happen to their family Christmas when feelings get in the way?
Giorgio turned his computer off and waited for the monitor’s light to stop flashing. He didn’t get up even when it did. The last thing he wanted to do was to leave his office, as weird as it sounded.
It was almost Christmas, and he wanted to stay there. It made him want to roll his eyes at himself, but since the office wasn’t quite empty yet, he refrained. Instead, he straightened his tie and smoothed down the front of his shirt. He got up, put his suit jacket on, and went to the window.
Giorgio swore. He’d been so focused on his work that he hadn’t realized it was snowing. It was a miracle his mother hadn’t called yet. He was ready to bet everything he owned that she would soon, though. He probably should be the one to call her so he wouldn’t have to answer while driving, but he wasn’t sure he could bring himself to do it. He’d see her soon enough. He really didn’t want to hear her voice already.
Someone knocked on the door, and Giorgio turned around. Alexander Gage smiled at him, and Giorgio gestured him into the office, hoping Alex had something work-related for him to do. Maybe Giorgio could make it so he had to stay at least for the rest of the day. That way he’d have to leave the following day, on the twenty-fourth, and he’d be able to stay away from his family for another night. “Yes?” he asked.
“I was just checking in. I thought you’d already left, what with spending the holidays with your parents. Aren’t they in upstate New York?”
“It’s only four hours away.”
Alex looked at the sky outside the window and snorted inelegantly. “More like six, if you’re lucky. It’s December twenty-third, and it’s snowing. I’d suggest you leave as soon as possible if you don’t want to spend most of the night stuck on the road.”
Giorgio sighed. He’d been too quick to hope. “I was about to leave, don’t worry.”
Alex nodded. “Good. I just wanted to wish you happy holidays again.”
There was that glint in Alex’s eyes, the glint that told Giorgio Alex’s offer was still open. Giorgio didn’t mix business with pleasure, though, and one of the worst things to do was to go out with a colleague. Giorgio didn’t even want to think about what would happen if they ever broke up.
“To you, too.”
Alex hovered for a few moments before seemingly making a decision and taking a step forward. Giorgio’s phone rang, and he thanked God for it. He wasn’t sure what he’d have done if Alex had tried something. Not that he didn’t like Alex, but Giorgio didn’t want to break his own rules.
Giorgio took his cell phone from his desk and nodded at Alex as he answered without even looking at who the caller was. “Giorgio Cavaliere.”
“Gio, honey, are you still at work?”
Giorgio suppressed the need to groan. “Yes, Mom, I’m still at work, but I was about to leave.”
“Are you sure you don’t want Giovanni to come pick you up? His car is better with the snow.”
Giorgio sighed. They’d had that particular conversation at least five or six times since Giorgio had told his mother he’d spend Christmas with the family. “Yes, I’m sure. I might not have an SUV, but my car is good enough, don’t worry.”
“He said he could come.”
“Mom, why should he have to drive four hours to come here, then four hours back? It makes no sense.”
“I just want you to be safe.”
“I will be. Don’t worry so much.”
“When will you be here, then?”
Giorgio looked out the window again. “Maybe five hours?”
“You’ll be here in time for dinner, then. Good.”
Giorgio sighed. “I will.”
Giorgio took off his jacket and hung it in the passenger seat of his Porsche Boxter. He loosened his tie as he rounded the car, then slid into it. He sighed and pressed the back of his head against the headrest.
He was in for three and a half days with his family. Three and a half days of hell.
He started the car. There was no use waiting or wasting time. If anything, it would only make things worse. Giorgio had no way out of it. He hadn’t spent so many days with his family in a few years, not because he hadn’t been able to have some time off work, but because the less time he spent with them, the better he felt.
It made him feel a bit guilty, but he’d gotten over that particular feeling over the years. They were so different from him, and he felt out of place when he was at his parents’ house. He didn’t have a choice this year, though, because his mother had threatened to bring Christmas to him and move the entire family to his house.
Giorgio shivered at the thought of his nephew and nieces in his apartment, their sticky hands leaving handprints everywhere. No, better to suffer through three and a half days of Southern Italian Christmas traditions—then he’d be left alone for the next few years. Hopefully.
He drove the car out of the parking lot and swore. It was snowing more heavily than it had been only half an hour ago. He should have known better than to drive to Rome, really, but he’d wanted to be able to take his car and drive around town when his family became too much for him to bear. That was one of the reasons he’d decided against a plane or even the train, but now he was feeling a bit of remorse.
Oh, well. There was no changing it. His mother would really send his brother if he decided to stay in New York. He knew her well enough to be sure of that.